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View Full Version : Foreign aid delayed for days as U.S. officials scramble



mcc
September 7th, 2005, 02:44 AM
Just now ran across this interesting article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/06/AR2005090601994.html) noting that in addition to having apparently failed to prepare resources before the Katrina disaster for dealing with its aftermath, the U.S. federal disaster response system lacks the organizational ability to even accept such resources when they are freely offered. The article focuses on foreign aid to the disaster area turned away or left to sit for lack of administrative infrastructure to accept or direct it, but notes similar issues have been encountered with aid offers within the states as well.


Offers of Aid Immediate, but U.S. Approval Delayed for Days

Offers of foreign aid worth tens of millions of dollars -- including a Swedish water purification system, a German cellular telephone network and two Canadian rescue ships -- have been delayed for days awaiting review by backlogged federal agencies, according to European diplomats and information collected by the State Department.

Since Hurricane Katrina, more than 90 countries and international organizations offered to assist in recovery efforts for the flood-stricken region, but nearly all endeavors remained mired yesterday in bureaucratic entanglements, in most cases, at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In Germany, a massive telecommunication system and two technicians await the green light to fly to Louisiana, after its donors spent four days searching for someone willing to accept the gift.

"FEMA? That was a lost case," said Mirit Hemy, an executive with the Netherlands-based New Skies Satellite, who made the phone calls. "We got zero help, and we lost one week trying to get hold of them."

In Sweden, a transport plane loaded with a water purification system and a cellular network has been ready to take off for four days, while Swedish officials wait for flight clearance. Nearly a week after they were offered, four Canadian rescue vessels and two helicopters have been accepted but probably won't arrive from Halifax, Nova Scotia, until Saturday. The Canadians' offer of search and rescue divers has so far gone begging.

I personally find the strangely laid back, "well we can wait and see what we need" attitude the FEMA officers quoted in that article take to be frankly startling; all of the problems we have seen so far, especially those in flooded new orleans, are time sensitive and get worse the longer you allow them to sit. If someone is in need of search and rescue dive assistance they cannot wait a week for the federal government to allow them to receive it, as by that point they will have already drowned.

Many of the major problems experienced here so far were exacerbated by delayed response to the situation at hand, and many people have publicly noted this. Yet it has already been a week since the tragedy and yet there are still things on which officials are apparently unready to respond, even when the resources to respond with are literally waiting for them to give the go ahead. We are certainly creating or exacerbating new problems by the extent to which we are continuing to delay. Today President Bush went to the media and vowed to eventually find out "what went wrong" with FEMA, but despite this things are continuing to go wrong and this is still going undealt with. Is someone at some point going to step in and start demonstrating leadership of this situation?

lynn271
September 7th, 2005, 05:13 AM
I predict that that the head of FEMA and the head of the DHS will both receive Presidential Medals of Freedom for their roles in handling this situation.

That was supposed to be sarcastic, but you know, it just doesn't seem all that far-fetched.

Also, rather than scrap FEMA, fire everybody in senior positions and start from scratch, Congress (where responsibility lies for creating all the red tape and bureaucracy in the first place) will attempt to "reform" it. The reform bill that they pass will be at least 1000 pages long, and no one in Congress or the Senate will read it before the vote, and neither will the President before he signs it. Perhaps they'll name it something like Federal Internal Assistance to Sufferers of Catastrophe Office (FIASCO) because we can be sure the reform will only lay more obstacles between the people that need help and the ones trying to help them.

We keep hearing that "this is not the time" for criticism, but the fact is, without the very sharp criticism that's already gone on, those folks might still be in the Superdome and Civic Center, forbidden to leave, and supplies and help still being turned away.

Oh, another prediction. The new bill to "reform" federal disaster relief will contain a provision forbidding all news reporting from disaster zones, with violators to be punished with huge fines and years in jail.

Doctor Jeep
September 7th, 2005, 07:58 PM
We keep hearing that "this is not the time" for criticism, but the fact is, without the very sharp criticism that's already gone on, those folks might still be in the Superdome and Civic Center, forbidden to leave, and supplies and help still being turned away.

Yes, it's amazing how we as a country can handle conducting a war on terrorism, invading and rebuilding Iraq and aiding and comforting people in the states affected by Katrina, all at the same time, but we are incapable of holding people like Brown accountable for dropping the ball. Somehow that diverts too much attention away from our efforts...or something.

KiNoRonin
September 8th, 2005, 11:54 AM
Konnichi Wa to All:


While I was at my Local Pub having a Pint, I was thinking about the Hurricane Damage in New Orleans.


My thoughts turned to how the USA, in the last 20 to 30 years, wasted away Billions and Billions of Dollars on Aggressive Wars in SE Asia, Middle East and South America while they should have thought of saving it in case of such Disasters as this happening.

That sort of thing is what the 1930s Presidential Candidate Wendal Wilkey was concerned about with his Presidential Platform of None Interference in other Countries Affairs. He thought it best to be Wise and save the Money from being spent on the Military when it should be saved in case of Disasters such as Hurricane Katrina befalling the USA.

IMO: After WW2 was sorted, the USA should have adopted Wendal Wilkey's Philosophies. If they had done so, they would not now need outside help with their present difficulties.



I also think that they should suspend the Space Program and divert the Funds for NASA for 5 years to a Decade to Hurricane Relief and Restorations.

Space Explorations can be put on hold for a while as Space will always be there to be Explored when Humanity gets its affairs on Earth put into order. Once Mankinds affairs are sorted, then we can resume Space Explorations.

Ki No Ronin

lynn271
September 8th, 2005, 12:21 PM
Konnichi Wa to All:

My thoughts turned to how the USA, in the last 20 to 30 years, wasted away Billions and Billions of Dollars on Aggressive Wars in SE Asia, Middle East and South America while they should have thought of saving it in case of such Disasters as this happening.

That sort of thing is what the 1930s Presidential Candidate Wendal Wilkey was concerned about with his Presidential Platform of None Interference in other Countries Affairs. He thought it best to be Wise and save the Money from being spent on the Military when it should be saved in case of Disasters such as Hurricane Katrina befalling the USA.

Ki No Ronin

All the money in the world won't make a difference if incompetents are in charge, and if the regulations and red tape are so stifling that that the resources can't get allocated intelligently. It's truly amazing some of the stories of pure idiocy that are coming out about FEMA, in particular.

Lack of money isn't really a problem for the US government, in the short term anyway. They just borrow it or outright conjure it up, and place some expenditures "off budget" so as to deceive the citizens that they really aren't spending as much as they are. True, this leads to complications in the future due to interest payments and currency devaluation, but US politicians don't tend to think in the long term, they usually don't think any further ahead than the next election.

KiNoRonin
September 9th, 2005, 11:16 AM
US politicians don't tend to think in the long term, they usually don't think any further ahead than the next election.


Totemo Tadashii Desu! :clapping:

KNR